Hundreds of thousands of pounds of frozen food recalled amid an E. coli scare may have been served in schools, according to the company that manufactured the items.
Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp. has over the past two weeks recalled 10 million pounds of frozen food items after 27 E. coli illnesses in 15 states, including Virginia, were linked to their foods. Of that, the company estimates that about 3 million pounds may still be in the marketplace and approximately 300,000 pounds may have ended up in school lunchrooms, a company spokesman said.
Dwight Gram of Rich Products said the main items shipped to schools were labeled as pizza dippers and pepperoni pizzatas.
If you think you may have an affected package or if you need additional information, please call the 24-hour consumer relations helpline toll-free at 1-888-220-5955.
If you prefer to reach Rich’s via email, use their contact form.
E. coli infection can cause mild diarrhea or more severe complications, including kidney damage. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 81 percent of the people who fell ill were under the age of 21. Nine people were hospitalized and two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure that can have lasting effects.
The strain of E. coli linked to the Farm Rich brand products is rare, and some laboratories still can't identify it. Because of that, the CDC said, many illnesses may not have been identified.
Health officials have so far directly linked the outbreak strain to two different Farm Rich brand products — frozen mini pizza slices and frozen chicken quesadillas. Samples of the strain of E. coli were collected from those products in the Texas and New York homes of two people who became ill.
It's not clear yet whether any illnesses are linked to foods shipped to the schools.
Rich Products two weeks ago announced a voluntary recall of certain Farm Rich and Market Day brand products because of the possible E. coli contamination. Last week, the company expanded that recall to include everything made at its Waycross, Ga. plant — a total of 10 million pounds of food. Products manufactured at other plants weren't affected.
At least one school district has already warned parents that food served in its cafeterias was recalled because of possible E. coli contamination.
A spokeswoman for Harford County, Md. schools said last week that Rich Products had notified the district that it had recalled its pepperoni pizzatas. Some of the food had already been served in cafeterias.
Gram, the spokesman for Rich Products, said school foods may be safer than those purchased by individuals because they are more likely to be well cooked. Cooking items thoroughly can kill E. coli.
From Rich Products:
|Item:||Pack Size:||Product Code:||Unit Code:||Best By Date:|
|Farm Rich Mini Quesadillas||18 oz. bags||35635||0 41322 35635 2||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mini Quesadillas||18 oz. - 20 oz.bags||35611||0 41322 35611 6||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mini Pizza Slices||22 oz. bags||35643||0 41322 35643 7||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mini Pizza Slices||7.2 oz. cartons||37690||0 41322 37690 9||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mini Pizza Slices||22 oz. bags||35603||0 41322 35603 1||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Philly Cheese Steaks||21 oz. bags||35634||0 41322 35634 5||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Philly Cheese Steaks||21 oz. bags||35618||0 41322 35618 5||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites||7 oz. cartons||37691||0 41322 37691 6||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites||22 oz. bags||37443||0 41322 37443 1||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites||22 oz. bags||37433||0 41322 37433 1||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites||22 oz. bags||37813||0 41322 37813 2||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites||44 oz. cartons||32521||0 41322 32521 1||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites||2 lb. cartons||37455||0 41322 37455 4||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
|Farm Rich Mini Bacon Cheeseburgers||21 oz. bags||35622||0 41322 35622 2||January 1, 2013 - September 29, 2014|
Where can I find the Best By Date?
- The Best By Date is located on the back of the package.
What products are NOT included in the recall?
The recall does NOT include
- Farm Rich Mozzarella Sticks – all sizes
- Farm Rich Jalapeño Peppers – all sizes
- Farm Rich Marinara Stuffed Mozzarella Sticks – all sizes
- Farm Rich Mushrooms –all sizes
- Farm Rich Stuffed Pretzel Bites – all sizes
- Farm Rich Queso Cheese Bites – all sizes
- Farm Rich Pepper Bites – all sizes
- Farm Rich Onion Rings – all sizes
- Farm Rich Meatballs - all varieties and all sizes
- Farm Rich French Toast Sticks – all varieties and all sizes
Why aren’t these items included in the recall?
- These products are manufactured in different facilities and are therefore NOT affected by the recall.
Why has the recall suddenly been expanded?
- For the past week, we have worked closely with the USDA, FDA, CDC and the scientific community, to determine how Farm Rich products made in our Waycross, Ga., plant may have become contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
- We have looked at raw materials and their handling, production protocols, hygiene procedures and many other measures to ascertain how E. coli might possibly have infected our products.
- When it became apparent to us that despite the expertise of these outside agency resources and our own experts, that identification of a specific cause was not going to be a simple or short process, we decided to act proactively to expand the recall.
- Our products are enjoyed by millions of consumers across the country, and we absolutely are not going to risk the health, well-being and safety of anyone who consumes our products.